PHP 8.4.0 Alpha 2 available for testing


(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8)

setcookieSend a cookie


    string $name,
    string $value = "",
    int $expires_or_options = 0,
    string $path = "",
    string $domain = "",
    bool $secure = false,
    bool $httponly = false
): bool

Alternative signature available as of PHP 7.3.0 (not supported with named parameters):

setcookie(string $name, string $value = "", array $options = []): bool

setcookie() defines a cookie to be sent along with the rest of the HTTP headers. Like other headers, cookies must be sent before any output from your script (this is a protocol restriction). This requires that you place calls to this function prior to any output, including <html> and <head> tags as well as any whitespace.

Once the cookies have been set, they can be accessed on the next page load with the $_COOKIE array. Cookie values may also exist in $_REQUEST.


» RFC 6265 provides the normative reference on how each setcookie() parameter is interpreted.


The name of the cookie.


The value of the cookie. This value is stored on the clients computer; do not store sensitive information. Assuming the name is 'cookiename', this value is retrieved through $_COOKIE['cookiename']


The time the cookie expires. This is a Unix timestamp so is in number of seconds since the epoch. One way to set this is by adding the number of seconds before the cookie should expire to the result of calling time(). For instance, time()+60*60*24*30 will set the cookie to expire in 30 days. Another option is to use the mktime() function. If set to 0, or omitted, the cookie will expire at the end of the session (when the browser closes).


You may notice the expires_or_options parameter takes on a Unix timestamp, as opposed to the date format Wdy, DD-Mon-YYYY HH:MM:SS GMT, this is because PHP does this conversion internally.


The path on the server in which the cookie will be available on. If set to '/', the cookie will be available within the entire domain. If set to '/foo/', the cookie will only be available within the /foo/ directory and all sub-directories such as /foo/bar/ of domain. The default value is the current directory that the cookie is being set in.


The (sub)domain that the cookie is available to. Setting this to a subdomain (such as '') will make the cookie available to that subdomain and all other sub-domains of it (i.e. To make the cookie available to the whole domain (including all subdomains of it), simply set the value to the domain name ('', in this case).

Older browsers still implementing the deprecated » RFC 2109 may require a leading . to match all subdomains.


Indicates that the cookie should only be transmitted over a secure HTTPS connection from the client. When set to true, the cookie will only be set if a secure connection exists. On the server-side, it's on the programmer to send this kind of cookie only on secure connection (e.g. with respect to $_SERVER["HTTPS"]).


When true the cookie will be made accessible only through the HTTP protocol. This means that the cookie won't be accessible by scripting languages, such as JavaScript. It has been suggested that this setting can effectively help to reduce identity theft through XSS attacks (although it is not supported by all browsers), but that claim is often disputed. true or false


An associative array which may have any of the keys expires, path, domain, secure, httponly and samesite. If any other key is present an error of level E_WARNING is generated. The values have the same meaning as described for the parameters with the same name. The value of the samesite element should be either None, Lax or Strict. If any of the allowed options are not given, their default values are the same as the default values of the explicit parameters. If the samesite element is omitted, no SameSite cookie attribute is set.


To set a cookie that includes attributes that aren't among the keys listed, use header().

Return Values

If output exists prior to calling this function, setcookie() will fail and return false. If setcookie() successfully runs, it will return true. This does not indicate whether the user accepted the cookie.


Version Description
8.2.0 The date format of the cookie is now 'D, d M Y H:i:s \G\M\T'; previously it was 'D, d-M-Y H:i:s T'.
7.3.0 An alternative signature supporting an options array has been added. This signature supports also setting of the SameSite cookie attribute.


The following examples demonstrate some ways to send cookies.

Example #1 setcookie() send example


= 'something from somewhere';

setcookie("TestCookie", $value);
setcookie("TestCookie", $value, time()+3600); /* expire in 1 hour */
setcookie("TestCookie", $value, time()+3600, "/~rasmus/", "", true);


Note that the value portion of the cookie will automatically be urlencoded when you send the cookie, and when it is received, it is automatically decoded and assigned to a variable by the same name as the cookie name. If you don't want this, you can use setrawcookie() instead. To see the contents of our test cookie in a script, simply use one of the following examples:

// Print an individual cookie
echo $_COOKIE["TestCookie"];

// Another way to debug/test is to view all cookies

Example #2 setcookie() delete example

When deleting a cookie you should assure that the expiration date is in the past, to trigger the removal mechanism in your browser. Examples follow how to delete cookies sent in previous example:

// set the expiration date to one hour ago
setcookie("TestCookie", "", time() - 3600);
setcookie("TestCookie", "", time() - 3600, "/~rasmus/", "", 1);

Example #3 setcookie() and arrays

You may also set array cookies by using array notation in the cookie name. This has the effect of setting as many cookies as you have array elements, but when the cookie is received by your script, the values are all placed in an array with the cookie's name:

// set the cookies
setcookie("cookie[three]", "cookiethree");
setcookie("cookie[two]", "cookietwo");
setcookie("cookie[one]", "cookieone");

// after the page reloads, print them out
if (isset($_COOKIE['cookie'])) {
foreach (
$_COOKIE['cookie'] as $name => $value) {
$name = htmlspecialchars($name);
$value = htmlspecialchars($value);
"$name : $value <br />\n";

The above example will output:

three : cookiethree
two : cookietwo
one : cookieone

Note: Using separator characters such as [ and ] as part of the cookie name is not compliant to RFC 6265, section 4, but supposed to be supported by user agents according to RFC 6265, section 5.



You can use output buffering to send output prior to the call of this function, with the overhead of all of your output to the browser being buffered in the server until you send it. You can do this by calling ob_start() and ob_end_flush() in your script, or setting the output_buffering configuration directive on in your php.ini or server configuration files.

Common Pitfalls:

  • Cookies will not become visible until the next loading of a page that the cookie should be visible for. To test if a cookie was successfully set, check for the cookie on a next loading page before the cookie expires. Expire time is set via the expires_or_options parameter. A nice way to debug the existence of cookies is by simply calling print_r($_COOKIE);.
  • Cookies must be deleted with the same parameters as they were set with. If the value argument is an empty string, and all other arguments match a previous call to setcookie(), then the cookie with the specified name will be deleted from the remote client. This is internally achieved by setting value to 'deleted' and expiration time in the past.
  • Because setting a cookie with a value of false will try to delete the cookie, you should not use boolean values. Instead, use 0 for false and 1 for true.
  • Cookies names can be set as array names and will be available to your PHP scripts as arrays but separate cookies are stored on the user's system. Consider explode() to set one cookie with multiple names and values. It is not recommended to use serialize() for this purpose, because it can result in security holes.

Multiple calls to setcookie() are performed in the order called.

See Also

add a note

User Contributed Notes 12 notes

11 years ago
Instead of this:
<?php setcookie( "TestCookie", $value, time()+(60*60*24*30) ); ?>

You can this:
<?php setcookie( "TestCookie", $value, strtotime( '+30 days' ) ); ?>
12 years ago
Want to remove a cookie?

Many people do it the complicated way:
setcookie('name', 'content', time()-3600);

But why do you make it so complicated and risk it not working, when the client's time is wrong? Why fiddle around with time();

Here's the easiest way to unset a cookie:
setcookie('name', 'content', 1);

Thats it.
3 years ago
Just an example to clarify the use of the array options, especially since Mozilla is going to deprecate / penalise the use of SameSite = none, which is used by default if not using array options.

= array (
'expires' => time() + 60*60*24*30,
'path' => '/',
'domain' => '', // leading dot for compatibility or use subdomain
'secure' => true, // or false
'httponly' => true, // or false
'samesite' => 'None' // None || Lax || Strict
setcookie('TestCookie', 'The Cookie Value', $arr_cookie_options);
paul nospam AT nospam sitepoint dot com
17 years ago
Note when setting "array cookies" that a separate cookie is set for each element of the array.

On high traffic sites, this can substantially increase the size of subsequent HTTP requests from clients (including requests for static content on the same domain).

More importantly though, the cookie specification says that browsers need only accept 20 cookies per domain. This limit is increased to 50 by Firefox, and to 30 by Opera, but IE6 and IE7 enforce the limit of 20 cookie per domain. Any cookies beyond this limit will either knock out an older cookie or be ignored/rejected by the browser.
nacho at casinelli dot com
7 years ago
It's worth a mention: you should avoid dots on cookie names.

// this will actually set 'ace_fontSize' name:
setcookie( 'ace.fontSize', 18 );
synnus at gmail dot com
3 years ago
The " PHPSESSID " cookie will soon be rejected because its " sameSite " attribute is set to " none " or an invalid value, and without " secure " attribute. To learn more about the "sameSite" attribute, visit

("session.cookie_secure", 1);

my PHP code ....

17 years ago
something that wasn't made clear to me here and totally confused me for a while was that domain names must contain at least two dots (.), hence 'localhost' is invalid and the browser will refuse to set the cookie! instead for localhost you should use false.

to make your code work on both localhost and a proper domain, you can do this:


= ($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] != 'localhost') ? $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] : false;
setcookie('cookiename', 'data', time()+60*60*24*365, '/', $domain, false);

ellert at vankoperen dot nl
10 years ago
Caveat: if you use URL RewriteRules to get stuff like this: into parameters, you might run into a hickup when setting cookies.
At least in my setup a change in one of the parameters resulted in the cookie not being 'there' anymore.
The fix is simple: specify the domain. '/' will usualy do fine.
gabe at fijiwebdesign dot com
17 years ago
If you want to delete all cookies on your domain, you may want to use the value of:

<?php $_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE'] ?>

rather than:

<?php $_COOKIE ?>

to dertermine the cookie names.
If cookie names are in Array notation, eg: user[username]
Then PHP will automatically create a corresponding array in $_COOKIE. Instead use $_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE'] as it mirrors the actual HTTP Request header.


// unset cookies
if (isset($_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE'])) {
$cookies = explode(';', $_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE']);
$cookies as $cookie) {
$parts = explode('=', $cookie);
$name = trim($parts[0]);
setcookie($name, '', time()-1000);
setcookie($name, '', time()-1000, '/');

15 years ago
Note that the $_COOKIE variable not will hold multiple cookies with the same name. It is legitimate to set two cookies with the same name to the same host where the sub domain is different.
("testcookie", "value1hostonly", time(), "/", "", 0, true);
setcookie("testcookie", "value2subdom", time(), "/", "", 0, true);
The next request from the browser will have both cookies in the $_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE'] variable, but only one of them will be found in the $_COOKIE variable. Requests to will have both cookies, while browser request to or only sends the cookie with the "value1hostonly" value.

= explode(";", $_SERVER['HTTP_COOKIE']);
$kaker as $val){
$k = explode("=", $val);
trim($k[0]) . " => " . $k[1];

// output
testcookie => value1hostonly
=> value2subdom

13 years ago
A period in a cookie name (like seems to show up in the $_COOKIE array as an underscore (so user_name). This means that for example $_COOKIE["user_name"] must be used to read a cookie that has been set with setcookie("" ...), which is already rather confusing.

Furthermore the variable $_COOKIE["user_name"] will retain the value set by setcookie("" ...) and no amount of calling setcookie("user_name" ...) will alter this value. This is rather trivially fixed by clearing the "" cookie, but it can take a while to realize this since there's only "user_name" in $_COOKIE.

Hope this saves someone some time.
hansel at gretel dot com
17 years ago
The following code snippet combines abdullah's and Charles Martin's examples into a powerful combination function (and fixes at least one bug in the process):

function set_cookie_fix_domain($Name, $Value = '', $Expires = 0, $Path = '', $Domain = '', $Secure = false, $HTTPOnly = false)
if (!empty(
// Fix the domain to accept domains with and without 'www.'.
if (strtolower(substr($Domain, 0, 4)) == 'www.') $Domain = substr($Domain, 4);
$Domain = '.' . $Domain;

// Remove port information.
$Port = strpos($Domain, ':');
if (
$Port !== false) $Domain = substr($Domain, 0, $Port);

header('Set-Cookie: ' . rawurlencode($Name) . '=' . rawurlencode($Value)
. (empty(
$Expires) ? '' : '; expires=' . gmdate('D, d-M-Y H:i:s', $Expires) . ' GMT')
. (empty(
$Path) ? '' : '; path=' . $Path)
. (empty(
$Domain) ? '' : '; domain=' . $Domain)
. (!
$Secure ? '' : '; secure')
. (!
$HTTPOnly ? '' : '; HttpOnly'), false);

Basically, if the domain parameter is supplied, it is converted to support a broader range of domains. This behavior may or may not be desireable (e.g. could be a security problem depending on the server) but it makes cookie handling oh-so-much-nicer (IMO).
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